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Vicente Fernàndez, Grammy-Winning Musician and Actor, Dies at 81

The celebrated singer recorded more than 50 albums over the course of his five-decade career

Vicente Fernàndez, the ranchera singer, actor and producer who became a mainstay of Mexican pop culture during his 50-year career, died Sunday in Mexico. He was 81.

The King of Ranchera, as he was popular known, passed away four months after medical complications resulting from a fall he suffered in his home.

A post on his official Instagram account announced the news of his death.


“It was an honor and a great pride to share with everyone his great musical career,” the translated post reads. “He gave everything to his audience.”

It concluded, “Thank you for continuing to applaud, thank you for continuing to sing.”

The mariachi legend’s rich musical catalogue spanned hits such as “Volver, Volver,” “Mujeres Divinas,” “El Rey” and “Por Tu Maldito Amor.” Born on Feb. 17, 1940 in the western state of Jalisco, Mexico, (earning him the nickname “El Charro de Huentitan”), Fernàndez got his start as a street performer before he was signed to CBS Records in 1966.

For five decades, Fernàndez shared his voice with audiences all over the world. He remained wildly popular when he retired in 2016. His final concert at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium included a review of nearly 50 of his songs.

The multihyphenate performer was also a prolific film actor and producer. In 1969, he made his acting debut in the musical comedy “Oh Delilah,” and picked up his first producing credit in 1974. He would go on to appear in almost 40 films while selling more than 50 million records.

He was rewarded for his accomplishments in both mediums with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998. His son, Grammy-winning singer Alejandro Fernàndez, took his spot next to his father’s star in 2005.

In 2002, Fernàndez was named Person of the Year by the Latin Recording Academy. He was honored with four Grammys and eight Latin Grammys throughout his career.

The Recording Academy and Latin Recording Academy issued a joint statement in the wake of his death.

“With heavy hearts, we bid adiós to Regional Mexican legend and cultural icon Vicente ‘Chente’ Fernández,” it read. “For more than 60 years, the singer, producer and actor brought the musical traditions of his beloved country to audiences worldwide through his amazing performances and his gifted voice, which featured impressive operatic power and range.”

It continued, “A man of hard work, Fernández was true to his word. Even after formally retiring in 2016, he continued performing and making music. In a 2002 interview with The Latin Recording Academy, when asked if he would ever retire, he proudly declared that ‘as long as my physical voice and faculties are intact, I’ll be there.’ And so, in 2019, he took the stage at the 20th Annual Latin Grammy Awards for an unforgettable, first-time-ever performance with his son, Alejandro Fernández, and grandson, Alex Fernández.”

His final album, “A Mis 80’s,” recently received a Latin Grammy and is currently nominated for a Grammy Award under the category of Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano).

Fernàndez is survived by his wife, Maria del Refugio Abarca Villaseñor, and three children.